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Master's Degree in Criminal Justice - Policing

Your criminal justice career can be strengthened with a graduate degree. With this article, you can learn the basics of a criminal justice master's degree program, including policing course offerings and graduation requirements.

What Is a Criminal Justice - Policing Master's Degree?

You can find many criminal justice master's degree programs offered by schools around the U.S. There are even many online options. While policing is typically a specialty within the field of criminal justice, most programs offer some relevant courses or seminars as part of a criminal justice master's degree program. Some policing master's degree programs exist, though they're not typically offered online.

You need about two years to complete a criminal justice master's degree program. While you don't need a master's degree to work as a police officer, your courses can prepare you for police jobs if you're changing careers. If you're already a police officer, you might qualify for advancement. If your bachelor's degree is in an unrelated field, you probably have to take prerequisite courses prior to starting your master's degree program.

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree; additional courses may be required if the undergraduate degree is in an unrelated field
Subject AreasLaw, ethics, criminology, police administration
Other RequirementsThesis or capstone project
Class FormatIn-person or online
Median Salary (2018)* $89,030 for police administration (first line supervisors of police and detectives)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 7% for police administration (first line supervisors of police and detectives)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

Criminal justice master's degree programs that focus on policing give you a deep understanding of the historical, theoretical, applicable and ethical issues related to direct involvement in corrections procedures. You take courses in law, ethics, criminology, police administration and criminal investigation. You also learn about self-defense and enforcement techniques.

Multiculturalism and diversity within communities and the police force are also usually covered in a criminal justice master's degree program. Additionally, you learn about professional and workforce development, human resources and budgetary procedures.

Do I Need to Complete a Thesis?

Many criminal justice master's degree programs require you to complete a thesis or capstone project. Typically, you take courses that prepare you for the research and analytical requirements of completing a thesis. A thesis requires you to present some new, unique information and contribute to the policing field. Capstone projects are often overseen by an advisor who helps guide the direction of your research and project design.

How Can I Learn Online?

Some criminal justice master's degree programs are offered online. You access coursework and lectures through your school's Internet-based classroom platform. You get the same education as if you were on-campus, but you can complete your studies on your own time. Despite the flexibility, you must adhere to your course deadlines.